Skip to comments.Chafee blames loss on Rhode Island's party-ticket ballot
Posted on 11/11/2006 8:19:55 AM PST by Graybeard58
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Sen. Lincoln Chafee said his knees buckled when he walked into his polling place Tuesday morning and saw that voters were given a prominently displayed option of casting votes along a straight-party line.
"It was so easy to just go against the Republicans and fill in that Democrat. It was so easy," Chafee said Thursday in a post-mortem dissection of his loss to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.
Voters in Rhode Island did exactly that on Tuesday, filling in Democrats in large numbers and sweeping the Republican Chafee from office as part of a fierce backlash that uprooted GOP incumbents across the country.
Rhode Island is in the minority of states where voters can select candidates entirely from the same party with just a single mark or punch on their ballots. The straight party option is available in just over a dozen states, largely in the south and the Midwest.
"I don't know that there's a good or a bad or a right or a wrong," said Kathleen Dolan, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who is originally from Rhode Island. "It depends on your perspective."
Though political parties may favor the option as a way to entrench their power in states where they dominate, critics say it can discourage thoughtful voting by allowing citizens to cast purely partisan votes without deciding on individual races or for individual candidates.
"Every voter ought to look at each race that he or she is voting for," said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, a California-based publication. "It just takes away from thinking."
The Rhode Island Board of Elections says 61,000 voters cast a straight-party ballot for the Democrats by connecting an arrow at the top of their ballot. The number of straight-party ballots for Republican candidates was more than 18,300, according to the elections board.
Republican Gov. Don Carcieri was the lone member of his party elected to state office, and even he survived a closer-than-expected fight.
The option is a carry-over from lever machines the state used until a decade ago.
"The law was written to ensure that the equipment would allow for the same kind of straight-party voting," said Peter Kerwin, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.
But the number of states with the option has been declining.
Missouri eliminated straight-ticket voting this year, and Illinois abolished it in the late 1990s. The Kentucky secretary of state proposed getting rid of the option this year, but the idea stalled in the state legislature.
"It's something that we're going to continue to push for," said Les Fugate, a spokesman for the office. "It's not going away."
David Kimball, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said party-line voting tends to be more convenient for voters and yields more residual votes in races located farther down on the ballot -- which typically receive less attention and publicity.
On the other hand, he added, voters may think they're done after casting a straight-party vote and then fail to mark their preferences on ballot initiatives.
"Of course, it's a political hotball," said Megan Mullin, an assistant political science professor at Temple University in Philadelphia,
She said she doubted Chafee's loss could be attributed simply to party-line voting, especially since the race got so much publicity and because a Republican governor was able to win re-election.
The typical casualty of straight-party voting would be a lesser-known candidate whose race is listed lower on the ballot.
"Is it possible that Chafee lost a few votes because of the party vote? Absolutely," Mullin said, but later added, "I find it hard to believe that the effect of the party ballot was enough to take the Senate seat away from Lincoln Chafee."
Apparently it's everybody's fault except his own!
So happy to learn the real reason this back stabbing worthless coward got beat. I thoght it was because he was a lousy Senator. Who knew?
We have party line ballots too but that doesn't cause me to vote straight ticket. I vote taxpayers party on school administration type races.
I heard this POS on WRKO-Boston yesterday say he was happy the Dems took over Congress.
I guess it's back to shoeing horses for Linc the RINO.
Let me get this straight; You're a United States Senator running for re-election and you Don't know how the ballot is laid out before hand?
Patches Kennedy got re-elected, I see.
How can an Ass shoe a Horse?
Cry me a river RINO.
I have wondered about how many actually did vote straight Party. A friend of mine claimed that's what he was going to do, since he supported a Dem for Sheriff and he didn't like Chocola OR Donnely. A very ugly campaign. Move-on sponsored hit job.
He even agreed with me that Pelosi was opposite of everything he believes in.
But I saw where they get their news. The alpabets and a local paper that features only AP articles.
And BTW....the straight party option has always been the first option in every election I've voted in since 1974.
Somehow that party ticket didn't keep Republican governor Don Carcieri from geting re-elected.
Time to think up another excuse, big'un.
Far from discouraging, this is a hopeful trend. It means that once again, principles are becoming ascendant in the GOP ranks, instead of expediency.
Fair warning, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter ...
Maybe they thought you was a Demonrat
The local PA papers and local TV are much more creative. Between the AP articles, they post their own articles trashing anyone with an (R) after his name beginning BEFORE the voting has begun in the previous election. In case you don't subscribe to their rags or can't read, the local TV news reports on the newspaper articles. It's like an incessant echo chamber and now that they know how to totally corrupt the voting patterns in the PA "T", the previously red part of the state, PA has turned deep blue and will no doubt stay that way.
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